“Transformations & Disobedience” – A Brooklyn Book Festival Reading – September 17


The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is proud to announce our partnership with the Brooklyn Book Festival.  Join us our Brooklyn Book Festival 2016 Reading, “Transformations & Disobedience,” an evening of stories, poetry, and song, at Molasses Books (770 Hart Street, Brooklyn, NY 11237) on Saturday September 17!  The evening will kick off at 8 pm, and will feature readings from a wonderful array of talented writers such as Stephen AubreyRita BanerjeeMadeleine BarnesEllaraine LockieBen PeaseAnne Malin Ringwalt, Kate McMahonEmily SmithBianca Stone, and Diana Norma Szokolyai, along with a beautiful interludes of music from accomplished songwriters Erica Buettner and Elizabeth Devlin!

Cambridge, MA Fall 2016 Creative Writing Workshops – Registration Opens July 27!


The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is proud to announce our new series of creative writing workshops and craft of writing seminars in partnership with the Cambridge Center for Adult Education in Cambridge, MA!  The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is thrilled to return to Cambridge and to offer an exciting range of courses for our Boston-area writers.  Our featured faculty this fall includes Jade Sylvan, Rita Banerjee, Laura van den Berg, and Diana Norma Szokolyai.  Information on classes, meeting times, and faculty are listed below.  Courses are $40 each and those who register for 5 or more classes will receive a 10% discount on registration.  Two kinds of classes will be offered this fall at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education (56 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA): craft of writing seminars and writing workshops.  In craft of writing seminars, students will learn about a particular craft issue, study and discuss examples of contemporary creative writing, and will do an in-session writing prompt.  For creative writing workshops, students will bring in new and in-progress creative work to be reviewed and critiqued during class.

Registration for our Fall 2016 creative writing workshops and craft of writing seminars will open on the Cambridge Center for Adult Education website on July 27, 2016!  Since 1938, The Cambridge Center for Adult Education has offered a most diverse menu of courses to adults in Cambridge and surrounding areas, and it aims to give people the opportunity to explore their interests and nurture their talents and potential.  We’re proud to collaborate with the CCAE!


Cambridge Center For Adult Education
56 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA


Saturdays, 10 am – 1 pm, September 10 – December 10, 2016


September 10:
“What’s At Stake in your Poetry, Fiction, & Nonfiction Manuscripts?”
with Diana Norma Szokolyai (writing workshop)

September 24:
“Science : Fiction – Building Literary Worlds”

with Rita Banerjee (craft of writing seminar)

October 8:
“Revision Strategies for All Genres”
with Jade Sylvan (writing workshop)

November 5:  
“Time in the Short Story”
with Laura van den Berg (craft of writing seminar)

November 12:
“Spatial Poetics”

with Diana Norma Szokolyai (craft of writing seminar)

December 3:
“Emotion and Suspense in Theatre, Poetry, and (Non)Fiction”

with Rita Banerjee (craft of writing seminar)

December 10:
“Writing Yourself Naked”

with Jade Sylvan (writing workshop)

Featured Faculty:

LowRes-DSC_0340-Edit-2Jade Sylvan (they/them/their), called a “risqué queer icon” by The Boston Globe, is an award-winning author, poet, screenwriter, producer, and performing artist heavily rooted in the literary and performance community of Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. Jade’s most recent book, Kissing Oscar Wilde (Write Bloody, 2013), a novelized memoir about the author’s experience as a touring poet in Paris (sponsored by a travel grant from The Foundation of Contemporary Arts), was a finalist for the New England Book Award and the Bisexual Book Award.  Other work has appeared in The Washington PostBuzzfeedThe Toast, Mudfish, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and many other publications.  Jade has toured extensively, performing their work to audiences across the United States, Canada, and Europe.  They are currently overseeing the production of their first full-length stage play, Spider Cult the Musical, opening June 24th, 2016 at Oberon Theater in Harvard Square.


RitaBanerjeeRita Banerjee is the Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and the new Executive Director of Kundiman. She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and her writing appears in The Rumpus, Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, AWP WC&C Quarterly, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Riot Grrrl Magazine, The Fiction Project, Objet d’Art, KBOO Radio’s APA Compass, and elsewhere. Her first collection of poems, Cracklers at Night (Finishing Line Press), received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book of 2011-2012 at the Los Angeles Book Festival, and her novella, A Night with Kali (Spider Road Press), is forthcoming in October 2016. Finalist for the 2015 Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award and the 2016 Aquarius Press Willow Books Literature Award, she is currently working on a novel and book of lyric essays.

Laura van den Berg
is the author of the novel Find Me, longlisted for the 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize an selected as a best book of 2015 by Time Out New York and NPR, and two story collections What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us and The Isle of Youth, both finalists for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Her honors include the Bard Fiction Prize, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Jeannette Haien Ballard Writer’s Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and an O. Henry Award, and her fiction has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories. She has taught fiction at institutions including Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, the Warren Wilson M.F.A. Program for Writers, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. At present, Laura is a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Fiction at Harvard University and lives in Cambridge, MA, with her husband and dog.

Diana Norma Szokolyaidiananorma is a writer/interdisciplinary artist/educator and Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. Based in Brooklyn, NY, she is author of the poetry collections Parallel Sparrows(honorable mention for Best Poetry Book in the 2014 Paris Book Festival) and Roses in the Snow (first runner-­up Best Poetry Book at the 2009 DIY Book Festival). She also records her poetry with musicians and has collaborated with several composers. Her poetry-music collaboration with Flux Without Pause led to their collaboration “Space Mothlight” hitting #16 on the Creative Commons Hot 100 list in 2015, and can be found in the curated WFMU Free Music Archive. Szokolyai’s work has been published in Quail Bell Magazine, Lyre Lyre, The Fiction Project, The Boston Globe, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, and Up the Staircase Quarterly, as well as anthologized in The Highwaymen NYC #2, Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, Always Wondering and Teachers as Writers. Szokolyai earned her Ed.M. in Arts in Education from Harvard University and her M.A. in French Literature from the University of Connecticut, while she completed coursework at the Sorbonne and original research in Paris for two years. She is currently at work on three books and recording an album of poetry & music.

Screening of Kamaleswar Mukherjee’s Chander Pahar (2013) – July 5

ChanderPaharRita Banerjee will introduce and lead the discussion for Kamaleswar Mukherjee’s 2013 film, Chander Pahar (Moon Mountain), on Tuesday July 5 from 6-8:30 pm for the Institute for Indology and Tibetology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, (Ludwigstr. 31, Seminarraum 427).  The screening is part of the course Genre and Modern South Asian Literatures at LMU.  Anyone interested in genre, Modern South Asian literature, or art house film is welcomed to join the screening.

Chander Pahar (Moon Mountain), a beloved Bengali adventure novel written by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay in 1937, is not an easy book to bring to the big screen. Key plot points include an erupting volcano and a prehistoric-looking beast, not to mention deadly spiders, snakes and lions. The story follows Shankar (Dev), a young Indian man beset with wanderlust. He can hardly believe his good fortune when he lands a job as a station manager along a Ugandan railroad, which means he’ll be living alone in the wilderness of Africa visited by people only when the train makes its brief daily stop. The latter half of the movie involves Shankar’s friendship with another adventurer, Diego Alvarez (Gerard Rudolf), and their journey to find riches in the Richtersveld, a mountainous desert region in South Africa.   Director Kamaleswar Mukherjee shot the film primarily in South Africa, and the vistas and animals are breathtaking. – Stephanie Merry, The Washington Post

Emotion & Suspense in Theatre, Poetry, and (Non)Fiction – Munich Readery Creative Writing Workshop – June 25 [SOLD OUT]

EmotionandSuspenseEmotion & Suspense in Theatre, Poetry, & (Non)Fiction
Saturday June 25, 2016 * 9:00-12:00

The Munich Readery
Augustenstraße 104, 80798 München

Plato argues that human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.  And before staging Kalidasa’s The Recognition of Śākuntalā, the director challenges his actress-lover: “As though in a painting, the entire audience has had their emotion colored through your melody.  So now—what shall we perform to sustain the mood?”  In this class, we will explore how creating vivid emotional worlds between characters and within storylines can build suspense, sustain drama, and lure the reader deeper in. If you’re currently working on a short story, novel, screenplay, theatrical play, lyrical essay, memoir, or narrative poem which has a unique emotional landscape, come stop by the Munich Readery on Saturday June 25 for our next creative writing workshop led by Rita Banerjee.  To register, send an email to John by June 20 at:store@themunichreadery.com. Workshop Fee: €30.  This workshop is SOLD OUT.

Screening of Srijit Mukherji’s Hemlock Society (2012) – June 17


Rita Banerjee will introduce and lead the discussion for Srijit Mukherji’s 2012 film, Hemlock Society, on Friday June 17 from 6-8:30 pm for the Institute for Indology and Tibetology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, (Ludwigstr. 31, Seminarraum 427).  The screening is part of the course Genre and Modern South Asian Literatures at LMU.  Anyone interested in genre, Modern South Asian literature, or art house film is welcomed to join the screening.

Hemlock Society depicts the wear and tear of the city life and how mechanical we are becoming. Meghna (Koel Mallick) is down and out after she finds her boyfriend cheating. Her relationship of many years crumbles within a few minutes. The matter is made further worse with her loosing her job and he bitter relationship with her father who has married someone else after her mother’s death. Desperate and disgruntled Meghna contemplates suicide. As she is about to gulp some sleeping pills, she is intruded upon by a strange man who calls himself Ananda Kar (Parambrata Chatterjee). Ananda tells her that she has every right to commit suicide but warns her that a failed suicide is much worse than death in itself. She offers to train her on how to commit suicide professionally at his school, which he calls “The Hemlock Society.”  Shaken and confused, Meghna agrees and sets off on a journey with this strange man not knowing that the journey she embarks upon will lead her to self discovery, happiness, and above all, love. ~ Aambar.

“There is no end to the story” – Moushumi Sen Sarma reviews Rita Banerjee’s Munich Creative Writing Workshops

MunichWorkshopsMunich-based writer and novelist, Moushumi Sen Sarma, reviews Rita Banerjee’s creative writing workshops in her essay, “There is no end to the story.”  Sen Sarma writes:

If you have wondered what I have been up to all these days, and for that matter, what I am up to in general, here is the blog post that will tell you. I have been and am writing, my friends. Until recently, I have been working on two novels, and some short stories. A few weeks ago, I attended a workshop on the art of world-building in science fiction and suddenly wrote up the first pages of a third novel. So now I am working on three novels. Plus those short stories. Also I am totally excited about a poetry workshop coming up next Saturday. Because I do ocassionally write these short lines on a sheet of paper that tend to sound lyrical, at least to me. So soon, I shall find out if they qualify as poetry or not…

But I am really lucky to have found a thriving community of English-language writers in Munich, supported by a wonderful independent bookstore and its proprietors Lisa Yarger and John Browner, and an inspiring teacher in Rita Banerjee. Ever since I found out about her workshops, that’s two years ago, I have diligently attended all the ones I could. Back when I was still doing science, I found conferences to be very inspiring. I would come back from one of those, all fired up and raring to work on some new idea that I had.

These literary workshops do the same for me. I look at my work with new eyes and come back encouraged and inspired. And I write, revise, write, revise and I enjoy every moment of the process. That is how I know that I have found my calling. Do you enjoy what you do? Do you like it so much that you don’t mind the ups and downs that come with it? If the answers are yes to both, you will know that you have found your calling too.

Read the full review here.

Poetry & What’s at Stake – Munich Readery Creative Writing Workshop – June 4

OBIT BARAKA 4Poetry & What’s at Stake
Saturday June 4, 2016 * 9:00-12:00

The Munich Readery,
Augustenstraße 104, 80798 München

“What’s at stake” reveals how and why a poem is being told. What’s at Stake builds urgency, conflict, and pivotal turns within a lyrical or narrative poem, and drives engagement. It reveals what’s on the line for the speaker and the reader in terms of personal, emotional, psychological, physical, social, and political investments. In this class will read work by poets such as Gertrude Stein, Paul Celan, Allen Ginsberg, Amiri Baraka, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Carolyn Forché, Yusef Komunyakaa, Patrick Rosal, Bianca Stone, and Ocean Vuong, and will explore how writers and readers become more invested in a poem, its performance, and its narrative by raising the stakes. If you’re currently working on narrative or lyrical poetry, or are interested in the commitments and stakes of modern world poetry, come stop by the Munich Readery on Saturday June 4 for our next creative writing workshop led by Rita Banerjee.  To register, send an email to John by June 1 at: store@themunichreadery.com. Workshop Fee: €30.

“Narrative as Provocation” by Rita Banerjee featured on The Poetry Foundation

poetry_foundationThe Poetry Foundation has featured Rita Banerjee’s article, “Narrative as Provocation” on their Harriet: A Poetry Blog today.  The Poetry Foundation writes:

Poet Douglas Piccinnini’s Story Book: A Novella (The Cultural Society, 2015) “suspends and electrifies narration mid-creation,” writes Rita Banerjee in a review of the work at LA Review of Books. “Piccinnini’s training as a poet illuminates his work, the structure of his prose echoing the long-lines of Ammons and Walt Whitman,” she writes.  More:

“These rolling lines are less biting than Ginsberg’s, but through a Stein–like interplay of sense and nonsense, his diction evokes vulnerability and makes evident the emotional, psychological, and cultural stakes involved. In this space of confusion, syntax and grammar break down as the speaker attempts to reformulate his own expression and empower his own disabled tongue. As language learns to articulate itself, ready-made forms of cultural capital — such as the privilege of being an American or speaking in the neo-colonizing tongue of English — are challenged by the speaker’s very inability to give them significance or import. In this Chapter 1 and in others, the parameters of the speaker’s life, of his identity, and of his sexuality are called into question by the birth and death of language.”

Read more about the The Poetry Foundation’s post on “Narrative as Provocation” here.

“Narrative as Provocation” by Rita Banerjee – Los Angeles Review of Books


In this week’s edition of the Los Angeles Review of Books, Rita Banerjee reviews Douglas Piccinnini’s Story Book: A Novella.  She writes:

DOUGLAS PICCINNINI’S Story Book: A Novella suspends and electrifies narration mid-creation. Story Book explores narratives of self-imposed amnesia, bloody encounters at home and on the road, Oedipal rage, suburban cocoons and the anxiety of marriage, male sexuality and therapy sessions gone awry, Catholic school and homosociality, confrontations with love, death, and surveillance, and of course, the purported cure-all of worst-case scenario guides. The “novella” is composed of a series of short stories which all begin with the title, “Chapter 1.” Each Chapter 1, laced with metatextuality, develops its own existential confusions before arriving at a moment of implosion or interruption.

Story Book is thus about a modern man, a modern artist, and a modern thinker disabled by language. The ghosts of Gertrude Stein, A. R. Ammons, and Samuel Beckett haunt Piccinnini’s prose as each chapter performs its role as self-confrontation or self-interview. Piccinnini’s power as a writer emerges when his disabled speaker learns how to articulate himself, and how to use the very language that hinders his understanding of himself, in order to climb out of existential dilemmas and tailspins…

Another “CStory-Bookhapter 1” begins with the simple provocation: “What did I love?” In this chapter, the speaker sits alone at his computer trying to decipher the meaning of his relationships with women and his odd infatuation with words. He ponders the difficulty of writing an address, a story in which the perspectives of the “you” and “I” combine and trade places. He considers how easily days of productivity disappear as the writer attempts to get a sense of urgency on paper. He writes, “I feel the quotation of an afternoon, emptied — empty before me,” and then reveals:

This is the third time I’ve lived with a woman.

I’ve been in love before. I’ve been loved. I’ve also wanted to have sex with the same person over and over again but that is not love, I think.

Sex can be love. But love and sex are different, obviously. Is it obvious? Sometimes you’ll want to have sex with someone you don’t know and never want to know. You’ll find yourself destroying a complete stranger in some compromising position. It would seem to be some biological failure, love and how we live.

This is the first time I’ve been married. I love my wife. I read recently, “Love is a condition of understanding.” I’m quoting from memory. It sounds like something you might read anywhere.

A nagging sense of quotation, of living a life built on quotation marks haunts the novella. The speakers of his stories are troubled by the thought that their very human existence and their desires for creative expression have already been written and have found a home in someone else’s prose. The fear of living a life already recorded and already performed by literary archetypes creates a start-and-stop motion in Piccinnini’s prose.

Read the rest of the review on the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Screening of Tapan Sinha’s Kabuliwala (1957) – May 3

kabuliwalaRita Banerjee will introduce and lead the discussion for Tapan Sinha’s’s 1957 film, Kabuliwala, on Tuesday May 3 from 6-8:30 pm for the Institute for Indology and Tibetology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, (Ludwigstr. 31, Seminarraum 427).  The screening is part of the course Genre and Modern South Asian Literatures at LMU.  Anyone interested in genre, Modern South Asian literature, or art house film is welcomed to join the screening.

Rabindranath Tagore’s story Kabuliwala, set in the early twentieth century Kolkata, is about a little girl Mini and a merchant from Afghanistan affectionately called the “Kabuliwala.” Tapan Sinha’s adaptation of Tagore’s story explores the bonds of friendship, affection, and parting as Mini and the Kabuliwala strike up an unexpected rapport, and demonstrate how relationships can transcend the borders of race, religion, and language.


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